Is it all over in Rochester & Strood? A new ComRes pollhas Ukip 13 points clear of the Conservatives, who will announce the winner of their postal primary today. The numbers are: Ukip 43% Conservatives 30% Labour 21% Greens 3% Liberal Democrats 3%. The usual health warnings apply about one-off polls: but it comes off the back of the increasing bullishness from Ukip about their chances of adding a second MP to their ranks in as many months. Remember, too, that ComRes's detailed poll of Scottish Borders called the referendum result correctly for that region.
Below the headline figures are more causes for Conservative misery. Voters are divided 4 in 10 Tory voters from 2010 are now supporting Ukip. Ukip voters divide 65% to 30% against the proposition that a vote for Ukip might mean Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister. Just 30% of Ukip voters by the PM's referendum pledge against 68% who don't believe it. But it's not all good news for Labour, who have lost 30% of their 2010 vote to Ukip against 39% from the Conservatives. (57% of the Ukip vote comes from non-voters; James Kirkup crunches the numbers around those who stayed at home in 2010 here)
But forget the old parties, what about that Nigel Farage, eh? He must be feeling pretty chipper, eh? Not so fast. ComRes polling confirms that it's not just Rochester where Ukip is usurping the Tories - the People's Army are now seen as the nastiest party by a plurality (32%) of voters. A slew of poll results suggest that support for a British exit from the European Union is waning, with IpsosMori showing support for the EU at its highest level since 1991. YouGov's EU referendum tracker continues to show a small average lead for the status quo - it's 40% - 39% this month.
That Ukip might do more harm than good to the prospects of the Out campaign has been a long-time fear among its supporters - here's Dan Hannan from July of this year - and those worries now look to be justified. If, as looks increasingly likely, Ukip continue to flourish, their most significant impact may be a movement of British popular opinion towards Europe and Ed Miliband in Downing Street.
SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE (1)
The NHS needs an £8bn funding boost, major reforms and a "radical upgrade" in unhealthy lifestyles to survive into the 21st Century, NHS supremo Simon Stevens has said. Among the plans: a breakdown of the separation between hospitals and general practitioners, with consultants and mental health professionals playing a more active role earlier on in treatment. "NHS needs £8bn extra, says chief (some of it to lose weight"is our take. "Price of saving the NHS: £8bn extra by 2020" is the Guardian's splash. "NHS: the £8bn black hole" warns the Times' frontpage. It's Mr Stevens' calls for the NHS to pay obese people if they lose weight that has caught the Mirror's eye, though: "NHS Will Pay Fat People To Lose Weight" is their headline.
"Osborne gets mothers back to work" is our splash. Hundreds of thousands of stay-at-home mothers will be encouraged to get back to work under government plans to reform childcare and give Britain one of the highest rates of female employment in the world. The number of women in paid work has increased by more than 771,000 since 2010 to a record 14.4 million. Laura Perrins, a former barrister and now part of the Mothers at Home Matter campaign group, isn't pleased: "Only a bean counter would make it government policy." "No woman should have to choose between their career and their family," Nicky Morgan says.
SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE (2)The three main political parties are not being honest with voters about the costs of austerity, the IPPR, a left-leaning think-tank, warns. Labour has detailed only "a very small proportion" of the cuts needed to eliminate the deficit by 2020 - the freeze in child benefit is worth a mere £100m according to the IPPR - while their additional tax plans have largely been allocated to additional spending. The Conservatives' conference announcements leaves that party with "a bigger job to do on deficit reduction than they had at the beginning of the conference season", the IPPR says. The full details are here.
PM'S PLANS, JUNCKED
Jean-Claude Juncker says he is "not willing to compromise" on the issue of free movement in a direct threat to the PM's pledge to make control of migration a red line in his renegotiation with the European Union, Bruno Waterfield and Peter Dominczak report. M Juncker said: "I am not prepared to change. If we are destroying the freedom of movement other freedoms will fall. I am not willing to compromise." Meanwhile, the UK accepts three times the amount of non-EU migrants than any other member state, Duncan Robinson and Gavin Jackson say in the FT.
BUDGET BATTLESThe PM will demand "downward pressure" on the EU's budget today at a meeting of the European Council, after the European Parliament voted to ask for an additional 6.4 billion euros for the 2015 budget, the Times reports. "The EU appears impervious to reform of any sort," our leader growls, adding, "in such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that anti-EU parties...are making such headway."
The Smith Commission, the all-party group tasked with agreeing the shape of Scotland's increased powers, has met for the first time in discussions that Lord Smith, the commission's head, described as "constructive". There will be a media black-out on the progress of the talks, with only the full agreement, if one is forthcoming, announced towards the end of November. James Cusick has the the details in the Indy.
"Oops! Silly Me!" is the Mail's splash. A photograph that appears to show Fiona Woolf with Lady Brittan at an awards ceremony in October 2013 will increase the pressure on Ms Woolf, who had told MPs that she had had no social contact with the Brittans since April 2013. Meanwhile, a legal challenge is being mounted by abuse victims to her appointment as head of the inquiry into historic child sexual abuse, the Guardian reports.
The great-grandson of HH Asquith, the first Prime Minister to reform the House of Lords will sit as a Liberal Democrat peer following a by-election after the death of one of the remaining 92 hereditary peers. The Earl of Oxford and Asquith succeeds Lord Methuen, who died in July. Jamie Ross handily explains the contest over at BuzzFeed.
Controversial earworm "the Ukip calypso" has been withdrawn from sale at the request of Mike Read, the composer and performer, who apologised for "unintentionally causing offence" with his fake Jamaican accent and references to "illegal immigrants in every town". But Ukip's attempts to find an alternate home for the revenue have led them into a confrontation with the Red Cross, who have said they will not take the money as the song is party political, Georgia Graham reports. "As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party," a spokesperson said, "In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics."
PHILIP DAVIES FEELING FOR SNOW
Philip Davies has described a confrontation between him and veteran broadcaster Jon Snow behind-the-scenes at Channel 4 News. "You're past your best," the MP for Shipley said. "At least I had a best," Mr Snow replied. Anita Singh has the story.
Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; see a gallery of his workhere. You can get in touch with me by hitting "reply", or on Twitter.
POLL OF POLLS
Poll of polls 15th to 23rd October (ComRes-Populus-YouGov)
Conservatives 32% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 17% Others 10%
YouGov: Conservatives 31%, Labour 33%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Ukip 17%, Greens 6%
TOO MANY TWEETS...
@mattwithers: If there ain't no party like an S Club Party, it's difficult for broadcasters to justify their continued non-inclusion in the TV debates.
From the Telegraph
Rob Ford - The Tories can't woo Ukip voters and ethnic minorities at the same time
Andrew Haldenby - Money alone won't buy us better treatment; the NHS needs more reform
Peter Oborne - Brave as lions but poorly led: the British heroes of HelmandFrom elsewhere
David Aaronovitch - Labour is pandering to prejudice (Times)
George Eaton - To win, the Tories need to make the economy the defining issue (Statesman)
Jane Merrick - If I got dementia, I'd expect my GP to identify it without being paid extra
AGENDA0900: Call Clegg on LBC 97.3.
0930 LONDON: Theresa May speech at Policing and Mental Health Summit.
1000 LONDON: MPs take part in the Westminster Dog of the Year competition.
1010 LONDON: David Laws speech.
1115 LONDON: Philip Hammond gives evidence to parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
1315 MANCHESTER: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin speech.
1430 LONDON: Report on Gurkha pensions launched by all-party group of MPs.
1440 BIRMINGHAM: Jeremy Hunt speech
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
House of Commons Commons and Leader of the House Questions.
A statement on the future business of the House.
Backbench business debates: i) Repeal of Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011 ii) Oral hormone pregnancy tests.
A short debate on cyberbulling and digital anonymity.
1330: Debate on the Science and Technology Committee report: Communicating climate science.
Introductions of Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen and Lord Scriven.
A debate on the contribution of the construction industry to the UK economy.
A debate on improved alternatives for young people not attending university.
A debate on economic and social development in Malawi.